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This is from an ESL study book, and I'm supposed to correct its grammar.

"My father likes playing gold best of all."

The answer in the back suggests:

"My father likes playing gold best."

My guess is that "gold" is a typo for "golf," but is "best" the right answer? Shouldn't it be "most" instead?

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    I don't find anything wrong with "best of all". They are perhaps objecting to it because it is tautologous, but it is a common phrase (6416 instances in the GloWbE corpus). – Colin Fine May 1 '17 at 23:04
  • I prefer "My father likes playing golf best of all" over "my father likes playing golf best." The former very clearly expresses that the person in question prefers golfing over other activities or games. The latter leaves open a tiny possibility that the person in question likes being better at golf than other people are. – Adam May 1 '17 at 23:13
  • As Merriam-Webster states Best of all is used to refer to the most important or appealing part of something that has many good parts. I would personally stick to "best" as a standalone word here. It's already a superlative. – SovereignSun May 2 '17 at 11:30
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I agree, both the sentences are grammatically correct (with the typo corrected).

As for speculation into why your book says one over the other, I think it may be a couple of things:

  1. Perhaps the book had wanted you to use the adverb form of "best" because...
  2. ...when using the phrase "best of all," we usually do so when there is something to compare it with in context.

    • For example: Of all the sports my father plays, he likes playing golf best of all.
    • "Best of all," Longman Dictionary
  3. Meanwhile, when we say we like something "best," it's possible for "best" to stand by itself.

    • For example: The judges liked playing golf best.
    • Or: What sport do you like playing best?
    • "Best" (adverb), Longman Dictionary

So in the context of an exercise out of an English workbook, I guess I could agree with why "best" is best, but in the context of real life, remember to go by context when deciding which option is the best of all.

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    There's another interesting point while using "best of all". It’s clean and well-located, but best of all, it’s affordable. - used to introduce the fact about a situation that is even better than the other good things. And "best of all" is mostly always used in combination. – SovereignSun May 2 '17 at 11:29
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If you check the word "best" in a dictionary, then you will find that it can play different roles in sentences. One of them is Adverb

In Oxford we can read:

Best: To the highest degree; most (used with verbs suggesting a desirable action or state or a successful outcome)

It demonstrates the definition by providing this example:

well-drained soil suits this plant best.

So, I agree with you (as a learner) that "gold" is a typo and therefore, the suggestion seems to be valid.


Added:

I should say that, there is no significant problem with the "best of all". Personally, I think the "of all"-free version is more terse and probably that's the reason why the author suggested omitting that part. As stated above, best already means to the highest point.

  • How does the suggestion (removing "of all") help with grammar or understanding? – Adam May 1 '17 at 23:14
  • Please leave a comment, when you down vote something on Ell. – Cardinal May 2 '17 at 4:33
  • @Adam That's more succinct in my opinion. However, it's not wrong to say "best of all" – Cardinal May 2 '17 at 4:36

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